Pennsylvania HB 671 – Cause for concern?

I had the opportunity this week to go over HB 671 with someone who I not only consider to be a true expert on breed specific legislation, but someone who is hands down the best mentor on BSL a girl could ask for.   After speaking with her, I have some real concerns with Rep. Galloway’s bill.

The existing law states the following:

Section 507-A Construction of Article

(c) LOCAL ORDINANCES -Those provisions of local ordinances relating to dangerous dogs are hereby abrogated.  A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog.

If HB 671 were passed, this new section would read:

Section 507-A Construction of Article

(c) A local ordinance otherwise dealing with dogs may not prohibit or otherwise limit a specific breed of dog. This Act shall not supersede or preclude the adoption of any municipal ordinance applicable to dangerous dogs.

As written, it would appear that this ordinances relates to the regulation of “dogs” as opposed to “dangerous dogs.”  Moreover, it states that HB 671 shall NOT supercede the adoption of any city ordinance regarding “dangerous dogs.”  Accordingly, to avoid any vagueness and to ensure that cities cannot adopt breed specific ordinances, the first sentence needs to be amened to reflect the term “dangerous dogs” as opposed to simply “dogs.”

Another concern is found at Section (f) under § 459-507-A, CONSTRUCTION OF ARTICLE.  Section (f) relates to the procedures by which certain cities can declare a dog “dangerous.”  The following language is added with respect to how First and Second Class cities may make a determination that a dog is “dangerous”:

Unless otherwise provided by ordinance in accordance with subsection (c)….

If § (c) is vague and has the potential to allow cities to draft breed specific dangerous dog ordinances, then the changes to § (f) would support the arbitrary enforcement of breed specific laws drafted and/or enforced by First and Second Class cities in Pennsylvania.

Finally, this bill applies to Pennsylvania municipalities only – what is in place to ensure that counties do not enact breed specific measures?

Let’s make it very clear…  current Pennsylvania state law ALREADY prohibits breed specific legislation.  Why tinker with the wording of the section regarding this prohibition – especially when the end result is vague and seemingly up for interpretation?

HB 671 was sent to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on February 27, 2009.   It would be a good idea to monitor this committee’s movement on this bill.  At this time, there are no meetings scheduled.  You may also want to contact the members of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and voice any concerns you might have with the bill as written.

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One response to “Pennsylvania HB 671 – Cause for concern?

  1. Pingback: PA Residents: is PA House Bill 671 cause for concern? - Doberman Talk Forums

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